Flaxus is a software developed to perform visual performances in real time under the TOPLAP manifest. Where the graphic piece is generated by code at the moment of its execution, bringing the artistic experience closer to the performance of music or dance. Flaxus incorporates and raises a new paradigm. It allows an executor to produce visuals according to something that is in situ, but that hundreds of other participants can see activated by individual audios in other corners of the planet. In this way the usual aesthetic value is inverted. The same visual composition becomes reactive to the individual musical perxeption. Promoting also the work in networks, Flaxus is a collaboratively operable tool, allowing the real-time realization of a piece between different executors through an internet connection.
We believe that the electronic visual arts need much more experimentation and deepening in their elemental search. Flaxus is a field work, a postulate. The anteposition of the visual performance to the musical. The use of networks to create reactive visual elements capable of reacting to different environments simultaneously. The experience of the collaborative from a distance. The programming of codes and interpretive processes in real time.
We seek with this piece to inspect the limits of the live visual experience.
Some time ago we set out to carry out a research path in the electronic visual arts by exploring the performative capacity of these live. We sought to find some similarity in the act of playing a live musical instrument, and the generation of visual content.
We gave in the beginning with the act of Visual Jockey or VJ. A visual performant act in which an oparator launches images that accompany the auditory stimulus.
We find in the act of VJing something more similar to that of the DJ that does not compose but mixes. Although this mixture was made with material from his authorship, that was not what we were looking for.
There is a radical difference in the act of playing a guitar note to note live, to compose the melody, to determine at what moment something should be heard, although in its time, previously, one has recorded it note by note.
We occupied the same pose the act of VJ. The performance was not 100% live as it can be playing the piano.
We determined that it was important then to constitute a visual minimum unit. As well as the note in the music.
The drawback is that the music has only one data axis. The note is a wave that advances in a single direction, with different values in time. The image contains much more data in its relationship to digital. For example, taking the screen that is flat as an example, it has 2 Cartesian axes that create the grid of pixels unlike the only axis of the audio.
To that we add the difficulty of the relationship between that plane and a fraction of visual time that in its aesthetic parameter according to an optimal fluids we could oscillate between 1/30 parts of a second to 1/12 parts of a second.
We saw then that the composition had to take place on the other hand and not by a metaphorical transference of the process of creation of the wave to the image that only gave for constructed different values of a single color that enveloped the whole plane or some more complex variant that did not satisfied our expectations.
In order to constitute a metaphoric transference, and convert the image into a process similar to that of music, we could only determine in real time minimum data in the timeline, as on / off of certain elements, or graduations of color or form We find then an indirect relation between the fact of playing an instrument and writing a programming code.
Investigating this point we found the TOPLAP manifest .
This manifesto belongs to a current of musical origin that today already has a visual arm.
Said manifesto exposes the same problem and interest in performance expectations. And it solves it at the same point that we arrived at.
It raises a platform where the visual content is programmed (We define how to program the writing and structuring of code understood by the machine and that it translates into images). In this way the performant is forced to act constantly to maintain an aesthetic fluid in the image.
This formulation has greater similarities with the act of playing live music, and is perhaps a return to the slogans proposed by people like Varesse in the origins of the electronic musical act. In these origins one of the interests was to achieve a performance that is repeatable identically by electronic means. Since the musical performance in those times depended on many factors (musicians, place, conductor, public, etc). Many were the factors that determined the representation of the final work.
A little our interest is to return to that factor of pure error that is typical of the execution of a piece in the moment. The ephemeral of the artistic execution itself.
The TOPLAP manifestsubscribe to these requirements also, where the piece is ephemeral. The code produced is not saved and is lost after its execution.
Another premise of the manifesto is that the code is visible to the public, just as the hands of the guitarist in his exquisite movement are part of the act beyond the incomprehensible of these swings of the fingers.
We then proposed to create a software that corresponds to this manifesto in all its principles. This would not be the first software, even the selected name proves it.
There is a previous software, named Fluxus making memory of the homonymous artistic movement. Flaxus, the name chosen by us, makes use of the same stigma, but replacing the initial syllable with “Fla”, a habitual replacement in the software and on the web when the program has some kind of relationship with the Flash. What is the software in which we develop the application?
But we did not stop there, we proposed then to take a step forward with our tool.
Incorporate the reality of today’s networks. The concept and atomic decomposition that can be done through the internet.
Our software is constituted on a redefinition of the live visual execution.
This is the possibility that a person is generating visual schemes, composing live in a corner of the planet, and that another person can see it live elsewhere.
But not as passive transmition. Understand passive transmicion the passage of the entire data from one point to another without deformations greater than the loss of quality resulting from the same transimicion. For example the transimicion by television or radio.
The software has as a “core” or forger body a series of elements reactive to auditory stimuli.
In this way the visual composition is altered and comes into play with the music applied to it.
Our redefinition is to impose the image as the driving force of the audiovisual exercise. Allowing each user to apply the music they want.
In this way, if an executor is in a part of the world writing live code, in each place that this code is reinterpreted, it will react to the particular music or sound provided in the place and time regardless of what happens in each other. point where it is seen.
Then the visual aesthetic composition stops being strict and becomes flexible to the circumstance. But this flexibility is not limited to the linear transmission of the communication in which there is an emitter and a receiver. Digital channels allow a circular performance, in their transmission channels.
What the flaxus contemplates is the collaboration of the performant experience.
There is no single performant, but the viewer can become performant and modify the piece outward, towards the rest of the receivers, possible issuers at any time.
The performance becomes a dialogue between many parties, the paradigm of public performance dissolves, and can even be reversed at times.
Thus we achieve that possible aesthetic error as the very basis of the system. In each place or moment the final perception of the execution can be completely different without altering the artistic composition of the piece.
The logical structure of this programming language is based on a system of modular hierarchies. These are inserted one inside the other and resolve from the inside out, clearing unknowns in the same way that is done in mathematics.
Each structure usually has as its first element a verb and as a second a noun on which the verb operates followed in some cases by different adjectives or secondary verbs that operate on the noun)
These structures always go in parentheses.
The Flaxus is an experimental conceptual tool. It is not a high performance software. It has a great educational value as it had at the time the software Design By Numbers originally created by Jhon Maeda at MIT or as it can have today the Processing created by Ben Fry (Broad Institute) and Casey Reas (UCLA Designs | Media Arts ).
The tool allows to create simple polygons in three dimensions in real time in a space reactive to sound.
It incorporates the use of particles in two and three dimensions.
Management of variables and mathematical calculations
Creation of real-time bitmaps
Different layer blending operations.
Use of textures, typographies and gradients generated in real time.
Direct operations on video and bitmap, this is Kerneling, Convolution Filters, Bitmap Copy, Video Feedback, etc.
All of these processes are executed in real time.
The entire software is built with Adobe Flash 8 . That despite having begun in its origins as an exclusive tool for the construction of animations today has a powerful language oriented to the aesthetic programming. Which, above all, allows us to perform bitmap operations in real time and be portable to any platform that supports the Adobe Flash 8 Player . In this way in a single development we could have a software that can run embedded in a web page and that is multiplatform.
In principle, our next plan is to increase the documentation and add examples.
We believe that the analysis of examples is one of the most robust and effective ways to understand a tool.
The software is still in beta, so from now on we will be correcting errors that we will obtain from the same community of users.
Our next act will be to implement a forum system so that the community can post questions, codes or scripts
The software is made available to the community under the GNU GPL License
Sharing the code of this in case someone wants to modify or correct it, as well as its free use by any individual.